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Immerse yourself in the ultimate gorilla trekking experience across Rwanda and Uganda.

One of the most picturesque and green places in Africa, the valleys of Rwanda are an enchanting place. Seeing the gorillas in the tiny areas that we, as humans, have left them is a privilege that not many people get to experience in their lifetime. It is also one of the most important things you can do as a responsible tourist.

Byron Thomas
Travel Designer

There is nothing more magical, nor more privileged in terms of African wildlife experiences than a gorilla trekking and safari tour. If contemplating a grand tour of Africa, then coming upon these gently grazing giants in their natural, jungle domain, would be an unmissable highlight.

One of the last remaining homes for the rare mountain gorilla is the Virunga Mountains that span the northern border of Rwanda, the eastern boundary of the Congo and south-western side of Uganda.

The best places to hike in search for these heavily protected species is Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Both in the Bwindi Forest and Volcanoes National Park, there are ten habituated gorilla families, with a maximum of eight visitors permits per day.

Each family has undergone a very delicate process over the years that gradually makes them accustom to humans, but are no means tame. The strict limitation on permits means they are not to interfered with too much and why you also need to book your place a year or two in advance. For a truly intrepid (and often private) experience of mountain gorillas, venture into the DRC and Virunga National Park. We would also recommend at least three nights in your lodge or camp in or near the national park.

Luxury gorilla trekking and safari destinations

FAQ's for Gorilla Trekking

What are the differences between treks in Rwanda and Uganda?

Rwanda

  • Rwanda is the smaller country of the two, so travel time between the airport and the Volcanoes National Park, home of the gorillas, is under three hours.
  • The gorillas here live at a lower altitude than in Uganda, making trekking easier and across shorter distances.
  • Volcanoes National Park is made up of lush bamboo forests. This allows more sunlight penetration in the forest and therefore greater visibility for photos.
  • Gorilla permits are more than double the cost as those in Uganda.
  • You can combine a gorilla safari with a big game safari in Akagera National Park, which is a great area for leopard spotting.
  • Golden monkey tracking can be done in Volcanoes National Park, so there is no need to visit another park, if time is an issue.
  • There are plenty of accommodation options, from mid-range lodges to top luxury.

Uganda

  • Uganda is a large country, it takes approximately 10 hours driving from Entebbe airport to Bwindi (over a distance of around 600km). This means an internal flight may be required.
  • Gorilla permits are much more affordable, less than half the price of Rwanda.
  • Due to the high altitude the gorillas live at here, trekking can take much longer. The forest itself it denser, so visibility can also be an issue.
  • Golden monkey trekking cannot be done in Bwindi. To do this, you must visit another park such as Kibale National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
  • Uganda is a great choice for combining with a safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park and adventure white-water rafting in Jinja.

What should I pack for gorilla trekking?

  • A pair of lightweight waterproof walking boots, worn in.
    Lightweight, quick-drying hiking trousers.
  • Gardening gloves (due to the stinging nettles and sharp bamboo grasses)
  • Waterproof hiking jacket or poncho, with hood or waterproof hat
  • Waterproof over-trousers or gaiters
  • Good walking socks (long enough to tuck your trousers into)
  • Water bottle or canteen (water and a packed lunch will be provided by your camp)
  • Walking sticks are provided by the lodge or park authorities but if you have your own feel free to bring them

Can I touch the gorillas?

No. The gorillas are wild animals and as such you should not attempt to touch them. It’s recommended to stay approximately seven metres away at all times. Since tourists can also pose a health threat to small vulnerable populations of gorillas, its also advised for guests to wear a mask while visiting.

What is the best time of year to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda? 

Rwanda has a temperate tropical highland climate, with lower temperatures due to its elevation. 2600m (8500ft). The long rainy season lasts from March to May, when the rain is heavy and persistent. The long dry season is from June to mid-September. October to November is a shorter rainy season; followed by a short dry season from December to February.

Rwanda can be visited at any time of the year and gorilla trekking is a year-round activity. Singita Volcanoes National Park’s covered golf carts have waterproof roller blinds and transport guests seamlessly from the main lodge to their suites when it rains.

Popular lodges and camps for gorilla trekking

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